“Nobody knows anything…Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”
Screenwriting sage William Goldman famously wrote that in his 1983 Adventures in the Screen Trade.
Today, Hollywood may still not know with certainty—but is getting closer.
Online exhibition platforms have given Hollywood the ability to precisely capture and measure viewership—and with that—make more informed production decisions.
Streamer Netflix’s recently announced deal to finance and produce four Adam Sandler movies is a case in point as they know—Mr. Sandler’s movies are popular.
IMDb lists credits—not in lead order—but by their IMDb STARmeter ranking, which is an algorithm of many metrics, including sheer page visits.
Not surprisingly, IMDb is owned by Amazon, famous for their algorithms that analyze customer purchases and views and from those—offer buying recommendations.
(It would be naïve to think that these new algorithms would not, at some point soon—just like buying recommendations—make casting recommendations.)
Website Box Office Mojo—also owned by Amazon—cross-dissects the performance of films, genres, directors and actors—so even more is precisely known.
Cable and internet providers know—down to the second—when content is abandoned, paused, forwarded, and replayed—providing amazing insight into what is—and is not—working.
Algorithms that couple all of the above give producers and providers—increasingly one and the same—a chance—stronger than in 1983—of truly knowing.